Crude oil slightly lower as USA inventories rise

China may boost Iranian oil purchases once US sanctions step into force- Report

Saudi Arabia expects its exports to drop by roughly 100,000 barrels per day in August to ensure it does not push more oil into the market than customers need, the kingdom's OPEC Governor Adeeb Al-Aama said.

West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery, which expires on Friday, traded at $68.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 8 cents, at 08:51 in London. But following the lift in worldwide sanctions on Iran in 2016, the Middle Eastern country's share within Korea's total crude oil imports sharply expanded to 10.38 percent in 2016 and 13.2 percent in 2017.

OPEC contributes one-third of global oil, adds or removes supplies in the market, which ultimately affect oil prices.

Although both crude benchmarks had climbed 1 percent on Wednesday, with other EIA data showing United States gasoline stockpiles fell along with supplies of distillate fuels.

The commodity has fallen this month in wake of escalating US-China trade tensions and mounting concerns about renewed oversupply. The global benchmark traded at a US$4.53 premium to WTI for the same month.

Futures in NY were little changed on Thursday after rebounding 1% in the previous session from a 1.5% drop.

US gasoline days of supply stood at 24.40 days last week, just shy of the highest on record for this time of year, EIA data showed.

The US government is sensitive about hikes in oil prices on the threshold of the country's important by-elections.

Trump strikes back at critics of Helsinki summit with Putin
But some of Trump's closest advisers, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, held a different view, according to Bloomberg .

Despite the jump, inventories at the US oil delivery hub for WTI in Cushing, Oklahoma were forecast to have fallen 1.8 million barrels, or 6.2 percent, through Tuesday, traders said, citing energy information provider Genscape.

U.S. president Donald Trump could well be behind or very supportive of the effort having repeatedly criticized the group via Twitter, accusing it of inflating prices and urging it to increase production.

Oil prices rose on Wednesday after US government data indicated bullish demand for gasoline and distillates, which overshadowed a surprise build in USA crude inventories and USA crude oil production hitting 11 million bpd for the first time. The goal is to bring down oil prices-and gasoline prices-ahead of the mid-term elections in November, the same month in which the renewed USA sanctions on Iran are returning.

United States crude stocks rose by 5.8 million barrels last week, compared with a forecast of a decline of 3.6 million barrels.

Saudi Arabia initially planned to reach record output of 10.8 million barrels a day this month, people briefed on production policy said late last month. The gains represent a rapid increase in output, as the data, if confirmed by monthly figures, puts the United States as the second largest producer of crude oil, just behind Russian Federation, which was producing 11.2 million bpd in early July.

Saudi Arabia boosted production sharply in June, raising crude shipments to world markets by 390,000 barrels a day to 7.6-million barrels a day, Kpler tanker-tracking data showed.

"The upcoming sanctions on Iran provide a golden opportunity to commercialize more US oil in the Indian market", said Abhishek Kumar, a senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy in London.

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